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Entries in Kim Cattrall (2)

Wednesday
May262010

Sex and the City 2

There’s a term we movie reviewers like to use to describe certain films, those that already have an existing fan base and will make loads of money regardless of what we write. That term is “critic proof.” Now I’m aware that I’m the last person whose opinion you’d ask for when it comes to Sex and the City 2, but duty calls nevertheless, so here it goes. I hated this movie.

The story takes place sometime after the first movie. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is married to her dream man, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but they are in the middle of a slump. Big wants to stay home and relax while Carrie pushes for outside interaction. Eventually, Carrie gets an invite to attend a movie premiere with her friend Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and her young boy toy. Meanwhile, the other two girls are dealing with parenthood. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) loves her husband and her child, but is unhappy at her job and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is finding it hard to deal with a constantly crying baby and a beautiful nanny (Alice Eve) who she fears may lead to her husband’s infidelity.

Meanwhile, Samantha gets invited to spend a week in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid, but she refuses to go alone and drags her three friends there with her. Besides, they are all having problems and need to get away for a while. But while there, Carrie runs into an old flame, Aidan (John Corbett), which threatens to throw her marriage further off track.

Again, I know nobody cares about my opinion on this movie, but I fear you may consider it even less valid when you hear this. I have never watched a single episode of Sex and the City. I’ve seen chunks of it here and there, but never found it tolerable enough to sit through an entire episode. I’ve always found the characters insufferable, people I would never want to hang around with. Materialistic and shallow only begin to describe them. Take an early scene, for example, where Big and Carrie have a warm, romantic evening together where they hold each other and watch an old black and white movie, the classic It Happened One Night. For their anniversary, Big buys her a television for their bedroom because he wants to recreate that night. He thought the idea of wanting to be with him would trump any material possession, but Carrie misses the romantic gesture and insists that a piece of jewelry would be better.

Maybe it’s because I’m a man and my ignorance of the female mind plagues me, but I found myself siding with Big most of the time. Soon after the above events, Big comes home from a terrible workday and wants nothing more than to spend a quiet evening in, but still he humors Carrie and accompanies her to the aforementioned movie premiere. Yet she still isn’t satisfied. Eventually he goes a little overboard and asks for two days a week away from her, which any woman would understandably scoff at, but she actually goes along with it. Carrie's problems are all self inflicted, but they are all blamed on outside factors. I wasn't buying it.

The writing, if not already understood, is fairly bad. The story meanders, the dialogue is boring, consisting of scenes where the four sit around a table and talk about food, fashion, clothes and shoes (as well as the obligatory "man hate" speech where they insist men in America don’t want them to "have a voice")—and the humor is mostly pretty lame. The opening of the film sees our protagonists at a homosexual marriage and they drop more gay jokes than MacGruber. It’s all pretty trivial, really.

Like the original Sex and the City movie (which I have seen), this thing goes on and on with no signs of letting up. It spends two and a half hours throwing the girls into random, contrived predicaments that come off as over-the-top and cartoony, including a late scene where Samantha shows off her condoms while thrusting around a group of Middle Eastern men who find her sexuality offensive.

These are not the type of women that should be idolized. Yes, they have some redemptive qualities and yes, they are strong, powerful and independent, but that doesn’t mean they are exemplary. They’re sex crazed materialists who are, at times, quite selfish. I bring up their unfortunate influence for one reason. At one point in the movie, a prominent character cheats on her significant other, something that is clearly wrong, but struggles over whether or not she should tell him. The girls sitting behind me, talking amongst themselves, argued that she shouldn’t, agreeing with another character onscreen. Sex and the City 2 is daft, and that’s fine, but when that daftness translates to the audience watching, something is clearly wrong.

Sex and the City 2 receives 1.5/5

Friday
Feb262010

The Ghost Writer

It would be easy to start this review off with a summary of the troubles director Roman Polanski has faced over the years, condemning him for his actions, yet praising his cinematic work, but forget about all of that. The real question is: can this man still make a movie? Polanski, of Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist fame, returns with The Ghost Writer, a political thriller bursting with intrigue and political themes that eventually gets sidetracked by its muddled tone, bad humor and been-there-done-that final twist.

In case you're unaware, a ghost writer is a professional journalist who interviews somebody and writes their books for them. For instance, Bill Clinton's memoirs weren't necessarily written by him, but rather by another person who took what he said and turned it into prose. In the movie, Ewan McGregor plays one of these men, known only as the Ghost, and he is invited to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan, after his previous ghost writer was found washed up on shore. For a hefty fee of $250,000, the Ghost agrees to take the job and is quickly invited to live in Lang's house along with his wife, Ruth, played by Olivia Williams. While he is there, allegations of war crimes pop up on the news and the Ghost quickly realizes that there is more to this man's life than meets the eye.

Hot off the heels of Scorsese's umpteenth masterpiece Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer feels like a number of movies mishmashed into one. What should have been an airtight political thriller becomes too oversaturated with goofy humor and chase scenes in the latter half that sometimes make the proceedings feel more like National Treasure than All the President's Men. This journalist all of a sudden becomes an action bound, conspiracy unraveler who figures things out in a split second that the FBI wouldn't for months.

That's not to say I dislike humor and think all serious movies should be completely so, but the jokes in the film seem too self-knowing to really work in this context. At one point in the movie, the former Prime Minister's wife makes a joke about texting. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware this was a teen comedy. Later, the Ghost hops on a bike and his rear wheel sinks into the wet terrain he's traveling on, impeding his movement. This comes at a moment in the movie where he is finally starting to piece together what is happening and is heading off to the beach where the last ghost writer's body was found. I need not explain why that joke is out of place.

My main beef with the movie, however, comes not from its poor use of humor or its sagging back half brought on by a spike in the action, but rather from its piling on of foreboding. The tension doesn't always flow naturally as it should in a political thriller. More than a few lines of dialogue eerily forewarn of the Ghost's impending danger, like one where a character tells him not to turn left in his car or he "might never be heard from again." While this could be fine alone, this is not an isolated incident and moments like this occur throughout the movie. I never felt like I should care based on what I was seeing onscreen, but rather from the constant reminder that something bad was going to happen being shoved down my throat.

Nevertheless, The Ghost Writer raises some interesting themes of power, struggle and war crimes and relates them back to America, exploring our motives and questioning who really pulls the strings, but the provocative conversation that should have occurred on my car ride home became too focused on the glaring flaws to spark any real interest. Despite a solid recommendation, I find myself disappointed with The Ghost Writer, a film that seemed destined for greatness, but ends up a throwaway thriller with minor thrills and little else.

The Ghost Writer receives 3/5